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If this is your Marketing Automation, you’re probably doing it wrong

Mar 14, 2013 7:00:00 AM

This is part 1 in a 2 part series about marketing automation and trigger events.

Campaigns are nice to have, but they don’t mean anything; they’re not important to customers. Customers go through a continuing process of making purchase decisions. Marketers are the ones who said ‘this is the campaign, it’s going to start here, it’s going to end here.’ Now, you as customers have to fit yourself into this campaign idea.

-- Professor Don Schultz, Northwestern University

When I check my phone in the morning, I usually have at least 15 marketing emails from various companies.  I wouldn’t mind if the messages I received were relevant, but most of the time they are examples of bad marketing automation.

Verizon emails me about a new phone even though my upgrade is over a year away. West Elm emails me about a couch sale, even though I bought a couch (from West Elm) a month ago. These emails were probably automated marketing communications, which were set up without looking at me as a customer; at Hansa, we call this “let’s just message everybody” practice “batch and blast,” and it’s the wrong way to implement marketing automation.

The perception many marketers have is that email is basically free, however that simply isn’t the case; just because there are minimal monetary costs doesn’t mean that there isn’t a customer cost. Here are three potential consequences of over-communicating with customers:

Customers ignore messages

In his article “Mastering New Automation Approaches,” Robert Brosnan of Forrester summed it up best: “Rather than serving contextual relevance, [marketers] deliver death by a thousand cuts.” The graph below is from real client data. This company is implementing marketing automation; however it is using the same volume to communicate with each of its customers, even though many of these customers have become less interested over time. By communicating with all of their customers as if they are the same (even though they are not), the company is hurting short term ROI as well as customer lifetime value.

Marketing Automation Chart Example

Money is left on the table

From the end of December through the beginning of February, Banana Republic sent me about 20 email coupons/sale announcements. Subject lines ranged from “save 40% today, 3 hours only” to “last chance for 25% off” (it wasn’t my last chance – two weeks later I had the last chance to save up to 40% off). Banana Republic has conditioned me to wait for coupons, therefore I just wait for the next coupon rather than pay full price. Even worse, I am essentially being trained to think that maybe Banana Republic’s products aren’t worth full price; if the products are that good, why are they always 30% off?

Campaigns are analyzed, but customers are not

I recently had lunch with a friend of mine who handles marketing automation for a large CPG company. She shared with me that whenever an email is sent, the client always asks “what were the demos? Did moms read it?” The company doesn’t know whether or not their customers made a purchase, just if moms read the email. Even worse, this company has plenty of customers who aren’t moms (I’m one of them). By focusing on demographics and not customer behavior, this company is potentially losing money as they don’t know what actually happens after the email is sent.

These are just a few of the challenges and potential consequences of “batch and blast.” Stay tuned for the second part of this series; I will explain trigger events and marketing automation and tell you how you can use your database to effectively communicate with your customers based on what they do.


To learn more about Marketing Automation, watch this exclusive, hour-long webinar on Trigger Events and download a copy of the 30-page PPT slides. Fill out our form to watch the webinar, now or later, and receive your free download instantly.

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About the Author: Ed Jaffe is Director of Customer Intelligence at Hansa Marketing Services, and his focus is on marketing technologies that solve business problems.

Ed has consulted with large B2B and B2C retail marketers and has implemented multi-channel CRM programs governed by customer behavior and lifetime value.

Prior to joining Hansa, Ed earned his master’s degree in integrated marketing communications from Northwestern University. Ed Jaffee can be reached at

Hansa Marketing
Written by Hansa Marketing